By Peter Andrew
One of my favorite films is "Le Dîner de Cons" (The Dinner of Fools). Yes, it's French. But it comes with subtitles, and I can read. And it's about the funniest movie I've ever seen.
In it, a group of ghastly, elitist Parisian businessmen meets for dinner every week, and its members take turns to invite the most boring and/or stupid person they can find -- just so they can make fun of him or her. One week, one of these insufferable snobs brings along a minor civil servant, whose hobby is (guffaw, guffaw) making matchstick models of public buildings. Unfortunately for the group, the man is also a tax inspector, who subsequently sets out to wreak righteous revenge through his job. Add in troublesome wives and mistresses, and you have all the ingredients of a truly hilarious farce.
Tax audits may be funny when they happen to other people (especially, perhaps, if they're European snobs), but they're a whole lot less amusing when you're the one on the receiving end of them. You can't eliminate the chance of your being audited, because a small number of filers are chosen at random each year by computer. But here are three ways in which you can keep improve the probability of your flying below the IRS's radar:
1. Check your work
Nobody enjoys filling out tax forms, but it pays to take care when you do. One of the commonest audit triggers is incorrect math. Unless one of the characters in "The Big Bang Theory" was based on you (and not the ditzy neighbor), use a calculator or specialist software.Read the full article »